Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Psychotherapy-Physiological aspects, Psychotherapist and patient, Psychic trauma-Treatment, Countertransference (Psychology), Secondary traumatic stress, Trauma, Vicarious trauma, Somatic countertransference, Body


This exploratory-descriptive study examined therapists' use of their physiological responses in work with trauma survivors. Broadly, the study sought to understand how a therapist's physiological responses play a role in how they construct meaning about a client. The study sample consisted of eight Relationally oriented therapists who worked with trauma survivors. Data were collected through hour-long, semi-structured interviews with each participant at a single point in time, utilizing the Physiological Response to Trauma Questionnaire. Findings revealed that participants used their physiological countertransference to inform clinical functions, specifically: ability to attune, choice of interventions, assessment, and ability to maintain boundaries and prevent vicarious trauma.




ii, 66 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 56-58)